Biniyam

posted in: Ethiopian project | 1

Biniyam and some of the class

Maybe the time-keeping issue is rather more systemic, as pretty much the same thing happened today.  There were two or three of the group waiting when I hauled myself to the top of the stairs – there was an article in the Guardian this week which said how using stairs can be a real aid to fitness; what with the Film Academy and my apartment, I ought to be fit as a butcher’s dog by the time I return.  But gradually more assembled, and eventually we stumbled into a start. 

It is my perpetual concern, but especially at the beginning of a project, that people will decide my approach is not for them, and will vote with their feet, but in fact the numbers were good.  Atala was there, plus her daughter, and there were a couple of other newcomers.  Of course, there were a couple of absences, and it would be that the two smaller girls I had begun to earmark as the Dotty twins (Dromio in the original) were both missing.  (Though I have since been assured they will return; we shall see.)

After a really pretty sharp game of Zip zap boing (I don’t know why I’m obsessed by it, but I am) we had a look at some slow-motion work.  Usual left-hand/right-leg instruction and problems (nearly everyone who tries this starts off with Spotty-dog impersonations, one side going at a time), but then some really nifty improvisations.  This moved on to small-group scenes, based on a car crash, but also incorporating speech; I needed to start hearing them.  This is, after all, an extended audition amongst other things, for a play in which the characters talk.  The fact that it is in Amaric is of not much consequence.

And with (maybe) an Anthony or two

Following a familiar pattern, we then moved to miming a rope (I know, back to mime; no-one said I was totally methodical.)  Tug of war brought the usual problems, with elastic instead of rope – no-one likes to lose – but this developed into some fascinating improvisations, many of which were dark – torture, execution, and the like.

But most importantly, Binyam arrived during the rope section, and immediately proved an enormous help to me.  It is clear that he is a superb performer in his own right, and was able to add elements of detail to the comments.  And of course he was speaking Amaric, so could explain things (while I had been stumbling along with a far more general encouragement and occasional criticism.)

The final section was to have a first look at the opening scene of the play, when the town of Ephesus (or whatever we decide to call it) comes alive.  We had a cramped space, and of course it was all a bit messy, since we were not trying to fix a definite choreography, but it meant that I had the opportunity to address the subject of the play – I told them about the old man, his tale of woe: the twins, the shipwreck, the separation.

The session ended with Biniyam leading us all in a call and response sequence, all standing in a circle; a wonderful way to finish, and to forge a feeling of togetherness.  I am very happy that Biniyam is there, making me feel just a little less useless, and also sharing the load.

  1. LOUIS SPITERI

    hi Chris….. wishing you all good luck with your venture in Ethiopia… louis

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